Willow Court Project, Tasmania, Australia


The second stop on the 2016 Global Archaeology journey was spent with the Flinders University team, led by Dr. Heather Burke, who are investigating the archaeology of the Willow Court complex in New Norfolk, Tasmania. Willow Court is Australia’s earliest asylum, opened in 1829, and that season’s work focused on geophysical investigations as well as artefact cataloguing.

The site is important not only as one of the first European institutional building in Tasmania, but, as is described on the Flinders University website: “The growth of, and changes to, the hospital over the 19th and 20th centuries reflect wider changes in community and/or government attitudes towards mental illness, as well as the ups and downs of the colony’s economy and changing legislation dealing with mental illness.” Mental illness is an aspect of humanity that touches all of us and I was honoured to take part in an archaeological project that will add to our understanding of this difficult subject.

The geophysical survey conducted by the team this season created a detailed base map of the site, allowing the archaeological team to identify sites of possible excavation in future seasons, such as building foundations that are not visible above ground. This is the only 2016 project where I participated in a geophysical survey and contributing to the creation of such a map to enable further excavation. The process will be a new one for me!

More information about the Willow Court Project and Tasmania can be found on these websites:

Flinders University – Willow Court Project Page

Willow Court Project – Official Website

Wikipedia – Geophysical survey (archaeology)

Discover Tasmania – Official Tourism Site

I learned so much about Australia’s Convict Era while in Tasmania. To see what I got up to during month two have a look at these Global Archaeology Blog posts:

Historic Archaeology in Tasmania: Willow Court

The Convict Era: visiting archaeology in Tasmania

Two weeks in Tasmania

Port Arthur Historic Site